We’re not talking about rodent teats, of course – those are still going strong as far as we’re aware – but rather the tiny rubber joysticks used to control the mouse pointer on early laptops. Uncomfortable to use for prolonged periods and prone to both wearing out and getting covered in all sorts of unsavoury finger-dirt, this is one thing we’re glad to see the back of.
Cause of death: trackpads
Image credit: Matthew
Mobile phone antennas
The cause of much in-pocket discomfort, mobile aerials no longer prod our thighs and beg to be broken off the first time a phone is dropped on the floor. Phone manufacturers have thankfully mastered the art of concealing antennas inside the body of their creations, and in all sorts of clever ways too: the HTC One, for instance, has an antenna made of co-injected polycarbonate, which is forced into channels in the aluminium body while in a molten state. Genius.
Cause of death: improved design and manufacturing
Image credit: Marco Nedermeijer
OK, so the MP3 player isn’t strictly dead – it just got absorbed, or morphed into, other gadgets. There was a time when almost everybody you’d meet had an iPod (or a non-Apple alternative for those who resented the iPod’s old approach to syncing and DRM), but now it’s rare to see anyone who isn’t a child or tween with one – everyone else uses their smartphones. It’s just a question of convenience.
Yes, it’s those smartphones again. Little wonder Apple now only offers one version of the once-ubiquitous iPod Classic, and hasn’t updated it since 2007.
There will always be a few people who favour dedicated MP3 players over their phones – the sound quality argument is a valid one, because lossless audio takes up a lot of space and dedicated MP3 players don’t need to use this up on apps; being designed primarily for music, they also may have better built-in DACs than phones. So perhaps it’s fair to say that the MP3 player has become a niche item rather than a totally dead one.
Cause of death: smartphones (again)
Cheap, compact, lightweight and just powerful enough to perform the basic tasks that make up 95 percent of the average person’s computer usage – email, web browsing, YouTube-watching etc. – the netbook was hailed as a revolution in mobile computing.
Then along came tablets and the MacBook Air. The former can handle all of the above tasks and are generally smaller and more powerful than netbooks, while the latter offers the same sort of portability with far better design, build quality and performance (let’s face it: most netbooks had had a run-in with the ugly stick). One by one the netbook manufacturers gave up on this end of the market, with the final two holdouts Asus and Acer finally ceasing production in January 2013.
Cause of death: tablets
Flip video camera
The Flip range of pocket-sized video cameras enjoyed a dizzying level of success in the mid-to-late noughties, culminating in the company’s megabucks (US$590 million to be precise) acquisition by Silicon Valley royalty Cisco Systems in 2009. Cisco saw that a cheap, simple and portable HD camcorder was the perfect tool for the YouTube generation.
But less than two years later and despite relatively strong sales persisting, Cisco pulled down shutters on the Flip business – perhaps wary that the steep rise in smartphone ownership (not to mention even cheaper camcorder-equipped devices like the iPod Touch) would ultimately prove the death of such devices. Chalk another one up to phones, chaps.
Cause of death: yet again, smartphones